Special remission: re-arrests not unexpected – Ndebele

2012-06-25 09:39

It would have been optimistic for anyone to think that none of the 40 365 prisoners who were released as a result of President Jacob Zuma’s special remission of sentence in April, would have reoffended, correctional services minister Sbu Ndebele has said.

Ndebele addressed the media in Pretoria as part of Cabinet’s Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster briefing about the progress that has been made since Zuma took office in 2009.

Ndebele said the early release of the prisoners was in part meant to deal with overcrowding in prisons.

He said the country’s prisons were 34% overcrowded and that the 71 prisoners who had already been re-arrested and convicted, within a month of their release, would eventually have committed crimes.

“It would have been too optimistic for us to expect any of the parolees not to commit crimes again because all of them were serving time in prison for different offences before they were released,” said Ndebele.

Chairperson of the JCPS cluster Justice Minister Jeff Radebe downplayed the re-arrests of the parolees, saying they only represented 0.18% of the total number of prisoners who were paroled.

The briefing was attended by various ministers, including Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, her deputy, Fatima Chohan, deputy justice minister Andries Nel and deputy police minister Maggie Sotyu.

Radebe urged South Africans to assist the police in crime fighting by reporting crimes.

He said recent crime statistics showed a decreased in contact crimes by 1.2%, while the overall crime rate decreased by 0.5% between January and March this year.

A lot of work was being done to prevent ATM bombings and to arrest all those involved and implicated in such cases.

“These heightened detective and intelligence operations will not be limited to ATM bombings ... but will continue during 2012/2013 covering all serious crime categories,” said Radebe.

Radebe was confident that the re-establishment of the family, violence, child protection and sexual offences units in the police would deal effectively with priority crimes.

He said the average time spent by prisoners awaiting trial had decreased from 150 to 96 days in the past financial year – a sign that the courts were speedily dealing with criminal cases.

Radebe also highlighted the importance of the reintroduction of the SANDF soldiers at the country’s borders as having helped detect and reduce crimes committed at these points of entry.

Since President Zuma took the decision to re-introduce soldiers to guard the country’s borders in 2009 over R3 million in contraband had been confiscated including 763kg of data, 315kg of copper, 23 stolen vehicles and nine weapons.

A total of 5 210 illegal immigrants were apprehended at borders.

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